Connect with us
Advertisement

NDB money wars exposed

NDB CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICERS: Lorato Morapedi

The National Development Bank (NDB) is trading on thin ice as profits are on a downward spiral and recent indications suggest that they will register a loss for the first time. The Development Bank stands at P320 million in arrears, the main factor that has pit management against staff.


WeekendPost is in possession of documents that illustrate disagreements between management and staff concerning the financial standing and future of the bank. Whistle blowers at the bank have revealed that the 2014/15 financial report which is expected to register a loss of the bank for the first time is still kept under the carpet.


“The Bank is anticipating an operational loss due to high impairments and provision thereof, an interest rate constrained environment, leading to reduced liquidity and this scenario is not only peculiar to NDB,” NDB Head of Branding, Marketing and Communications Harry Marks said.


It is understood that while the financials for 2014 are yet to be approved – the bank is anticipating an operational loss.


Documents passed to this publication, confirm the anticipated loss – the financial position of the bank is in a disturbing state and this is exacerbated by the high level of non-performing accounts.


The bank has an unprecedented number of non-performing accounts.  The total NDB portfolio is P1, 769, 398, 215.00 with total arrears at P319, 035 431.00,” states a letter sent to Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo dated 16 February 2015 which has been passed to this publication.


“The Bank is constantly borrowing from other commercial Banks which it competes with to lend to the general public. These commercial banks lend NDB funds at unfavourable rates and very onerous conditions as they have taken the view that NDB is a high credit risk – especially because of its management inability to curb the bad debt situation that is spiraling out of control,” the letter reads.


It is understood that the commercial banks often require additional surety or guarantee from government because of the shaky ground on which the bank finances are standing. In another letter dated 12 December 2014 from the National Development bank Employees Union (NDBEU) to the board chairperson, the bank employees are concerned about the bank’s debt.


“To date, and as is the case every year, management is struggling to persuade the external auditors to endorse the annual accounts. As usual, management and staff are called upon to cook up some gymnastic explanation with regard to its bad debt provisioning methodology, and generally account for how it has factored the impact of its substantial uncollectable debt. Such a situation cannot be allowed to persist as an annual ritual, year in and year out.”


According to the information, the bank’s financial position has also been negatively impacted by the decision on implementation of several projects (refurbishment, rebranding etc), all done within a relative short time.

The Some employees state that prioritization on project implementation, employees’ state, was not at all well carried out despite very restrained resources. Refurbishments, sources say were done at the tune of 85 million of which P6.5 million was splashed at the rented Palapye branch.


“Naturally therefore certain projects have now been stopped midway. The office refurbishment and rebranding project has been stalled for example, which presents a very embarrassing scenario given that management has been advertising extensively to the general public that they will now be seeing a brand new bank,” NDBEU said through their letter to bank board Chairperson Mr. L. Seitei who has served for more than 10 years in the position.


This publication is informed that the bank is currently faced with challenges in making disbursements at adequate levels because there are insufficient funds for loan disbursements. This, it is believed, has resulted in delayed service delivery and is affecting the credibility of the bank. “Yet there is no formal or open communication to staff with regard to details of the liquidity situation and what they should expect, or what is expected of them.”
 
According to Marks, overall the banking sector has been experiencing a decline in profitability due to the aftershocks of the 2008 world economic meltdown and partly due to a combination of the factors stated. In addition NDB’s development mandate focuses on start-ups and sectors that are susceptible to diseases and drought such as agriculture, he added. NDB’s primary role is to provide Agricultural loans to farmers and/or potential farmers.


Although the bank said to be in financial trouble, the NDB spokesperson explained that the bank has been performing well since 2010; with total assets increasing by 60% from P1 billion to P1.6 billion in 2014 as a result of an increase in net loans and advances.


However he conceded that the bank’s financial performance has been declining: “the bank has also been profitable during this period (since 2010) with profit declining yearly at P57.8million, P48.6million, P40.5 million, and P45.8million in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively.


NDB employees have previously warned the bank management that a downward spiral in performance would ultimately lead the bank to a position that is not favourable for stakeholders. Some stakeholders are already aware that the bank is facing very serious liquidity problems and is currently unable to pay out loan funds – which is the core mandate – even to applicants whose loans have been approved.


“Loan files that are awaiting disbursement of funds are said to have been stacked up and deliberately delayed as an unofficial internal policy so as to manage the financial crisis. Seasonal agricultural loans, especially those of significant amounts, which should have long been disbursed to farmers for the current rain season, are still pending disbursement. All the while customers have been kept in the dark with regard to what is happening with the processing of their loans,” one of the stakeholders said.


The bank is predicting a loss of an estimated P87 million – which is attributed to lack of financial management. The bank is said to be not performing to its optimum best – in the past five years it was making profits of around P48 million.


When contacted for comment NDBEU President, Gilbert Watshipi was reluctant to share information on the alleged financial crises at the bank. He refused to shed light on any information saying it is internal and insisted that bank management and Finance minister Matambo are in talks with staff to address the challenges faced by the bank. “That issue is internal – and besides we are not allowed to speak to the media,” Watshipi pointed out.


Meanwhile Member of Parliament for Mabule/Goodhope, James Mathokgwane is expected to rally parliament to move a motion calling for a commission of inquiry on alleged maladministration, financial mismanagement, corruption and nepotism at NDB in July sitting.

Continue Reading

News

DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

Continue Reading

News

Stan Chart halts civil servants property loan facility

26th July 2022
Stan-Chart

Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.

This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.

He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.

Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”

He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.

Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.

“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.

In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”

In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.

He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.”  Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.

Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.

He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”

Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.

“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.

“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said.  Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.

Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.

Continue Reading

News

Botswana ranked 129 in female MPs representation

26th July 2022
Minister of Finance & Economic Development Peggy Serame

The Global Gender Gap Index, a report published by the World Economic Forum annually, has indicated that Botswana is among countries that fare badly when it comes to representation of women in legislative bodies.

The latest Global Gender Gap Index, published last week, benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four key dimensions (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment). It is the longest-standing index which tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time since its inception in 2006.

This year, the Global Gender Gap Index benchmarked 146 countries. Of these, a subset of 102 countries have been represented in every edition of the index since 2006, further providing a large constant sample for time series analysis.

Botswana ranks number 66 overall (out of 146 countries), with good rankings in most of the pillars. Botswana ranks 1st in Health and Survival, 7th in the Economic Participation and Opportunity, 22nd in Educational Attainment, and 129th in Political Empowerment.

The Global Gender Gap Index measures scores on a 0 to 100 scale and scores can be interpreted as the distance covered towards parity (i.e. the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed). The cross-country comparisons aim to support the identification of the most effective policies to close gender gaps.

The Economic Participation and Opportunity sub-index contains three concepts: the participation gap, the remuneration gap and the advancement gap. The participation gap is captured using the difference between women and men in labour-force participation rates. The remuneration gap is captured through a hard data indicator (ratio of estimated female-to-male earned income) and a qualitative indicator gathered through the World Economic Forum’s annual Executive Opinion Survey (wage equality for similar work).

Finally, the gap between the advancement of women and men is captured through two hard data statistics (the ratio of women to men among legislators, senior officials and managers, and the ratio of women to men among technical and professional workers).

The Educational Attainment sub-index captures the gap between women’s and men’s current access to education through the enrolment ratios of women to men in primary-, secondary- and tertiary-level education. A longer-term view of the country’s ability to educate women and men in equal numbers is captured through the ratio of women’s literacy rate to men’s literacy rate.

Health and Survival sub-index provides an overview of the differences between women’s and men’s health using two indicators. The first is the sex ratio at birth, which aims specifically to capture the phenomenon of “missing women”, prevalent in countries with a strong son preference. Second, the index uses the gap between women’s and men’s healthy life expectancy.

This measure provides an estimate of the number of years that women and men can expect to live in good health by accounting for the years lost to violence, disease, malnutrition and other factors.
Political Empowerment sub-index measures the gap between men and women at the highest level of political decision-making through the ratio of women to men in ministerial positions and the ratio of women to men in parliamentary positions. In addition, the reported included the ratio of women to men in terms of years in executive office (prime minister or president) for the last 50 years.

In the last general elections, only three women won elections, compared to 54 males. The three women are; Nnaniki Makwinja (Lentsweletau-Mmopane), Talita Monnakgotla (Kgalagadi North), and Anna Mokgethi (Gaborone Bonnington North). Four women were elected through Specially Elected dispensation; Peggy Serame, Dr Unity Dow, Phildah Kereng and Beauty Manake. All female MPs — save Dow, who resigned — are members of the executive.

Overall, Botswana has 63 seats, all 57 elected by the electorates, and six elected by parliament. Early this year, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general and Gaborone North MP, Mpho Balopi, successfully moved a motion in parliament calling for increment of elective seats from 57 to 61. Balopi contented that population growth demands the country respond by increasing the number of MPs.

In Africa, Botswana play second fiddle to countries like Rwanda, Namibia, South Africa, Burundi, and Zimbabwe who have better representation of women, with Rwanda being the only country with more than 50 percent of women in parliament.

The low number of women in parliament is attributed to Botswana’s current, electoral system, First-Past-the-Post. During the 9th parliament, then MP for Mahalapye East tabled a motion in parliament in which she sort to increase the number of Specially Elected MPs in parliament to augment female representation in the National Assembly.

The motion was opposed famously, by then Specially Elected MP, Botsalo Ntuane, who said the citizens were not in favour of such a move since it dilute democracy, instead suggesting the Botswana should switch to Proportional-Representation-System. Botswana is currently undergoing Constitutional Review process, with the commission, appointed in December, expected to deliver the report to President Mokgweetsi Masisi by September this year.

Continue Reading
Weekend Post